This month, Marvel's cosmic characters are facing one of their greatest threats during the "Realm of Kings."
And for the loyal fans who follow these comics, "Realm of Kings" is another chance for writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning to work their magic on the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe.
For the two writers, it all started back in 2005 with a pitch they made to write a series about the Marvel character Nova. It turned out that the character had a starring role in the publisher's Annihilation event that year, and Abnett and Lanning were given the task of reviving Nova in a tie-in mini-series.
Over the last four years, that gig with Nova has grown into several events, tie-ins and two ongoing series for the writers. Abnett and Lanning have ended up controlling Marvel's space characters and getting rave reviews no matter who they touch.
And with this month's Realm of Kings #1 one-shot, the two writers have kicked off the next chapter in the ongoing saga of the cosmic universe. As Marvel editor Bill Rosemann explained it to Newsarama, "it’s not a crossover with numbered chapters, but rather the new environment for stories that Dan and Andy have created. Much like the Initiative stories which followed Civil War, or the Dark Reign stories that followed Secret Invasion, we are now seeing how our heroes and villains react and maneuver in this new wild playground."
To bring readers up to speed with what's happening with the space characters at Marvel as "Realm of Kings" begins, Newsarama is exploring the different cosmic concepts with Abnett and Lanning, starting with the empires that have been defined by recent events, and following up with Guardians of the Galaxy.
But it all started with a guy named Richard Rider. And for this installment of our "Tour of the Marvel Cosmos," we turn now to the intergalactic police officer known as Nova.
Who He Is: Richard Rider is a human who was given powers by the last surviving member of the planet Xandar's Nova Corps as he was dying. Rider became Nova, possessing superhuman strength and speed, as well as control over the powerful "Worldmind" that possesses all the knowledge and energy of the planet Xandar.
Nova's Current Status: "Nova is trying to resolve his choices: should he stay a solo hero, a cosmic ‘lone ranger’, or should he embrace the recreation of the Nova Corps?" Abnett and Lanning explained. "He certainly wants the Corps back. He can’t save the galaxy on his own, but he doesn’t want to rebuild too hastily: the Worldmind brought the Corps back during the War of Kings and a LOT of inexperienced young people died. The balance, as he sees it, works like this: he’s kept on the most promising cadets, just a handful including his kid brother Robbie. They’re going to be his probationers, the basis of the Corps. While they train up, he’ll continue to serve as the active Nova Prime, and his remit will of course include policing the frontiers of the Fault."
Supporting Characters: "The main support characters are the Worldmind, of course, and the probies: Tre, Lindy, Robbie, Fraktur, Qubit, Morrow and Irani. They’re all beginning to show their individual strengths and qualities. Worldmind, of course, is now running the personality of Ko-Rel, so ‘it’s’ become a little more feisty. A few readers have expressed concerns about the ‘new’ Worldmind, but we believe it really makes a change for Nova’s ‘backseat driver’ to have a proper personality. And the feisty-ness? Well, Ko-Rel has an axe to grind: she died deputizing for Rich, and that means she’s never going to see her baby son again. There is a little grit to her.
"Then, of course, there’s Philo, the old Nova Centurion who’s just shown up after years of being castaway in the Fault," the writers said. "His old, battered ship - the Resolute Duty - has become the Corps’s home base, and he’s the ‘drill sergeant’ in charge of whipping the probies into shape while Nova’s away saving the galaxy.
"We’re also seeing the return of Nova’s old pal Darkhawk to these pages. Darkhawk’s return runs right into the next storyline..."
Major Crisis Going Forward: The Fault -- the huge tear in space and time caused by the detonation of the Terrigen-bomb at the end of the War of Kings. As Abnett and Lanning explained: "It’s not going to give too much away to say that it’s a story called The Riddle of the Sphinx! Yes, one of Nova’s biggest, baddest all-time villains is back, in a time-traveling, cosmos-jumping, power-punching epic that will see some real shocks and surprises... not the least of which will be the surprise guest stars, both friends and foes! Some all-star heroes of the Marvel Universe who have faced down the Sphinx before will stand shoulder to shoulder with Nova for this one, and some of them will be real surprises to see! Facing them, a hand-picked squad of cosmic enforcers that will delight all fans of Marvel continuity! We’re excited just thinking about some of these old faces!"
Where to Find the Story: This month's Nova #31 began a five-issue "Realm of Kings" tie-in story with art by Andrea Di Vito. "This is an awesome shake-up story, and we think it’s absolutely in keeping with the flavor of ‘classic’ Nova tales - probably more than any story we’ve yet done," Abnett and Lanning said. "The guest stars carry some real weight too: these aren’t just characters that are fun to include. Some of these characters have real emotional resonance with Richard Rider."
Final Word on Nova in Realm of Kings?: "Uhm... it’s critical you pay attention at this time."